Should African American college students accept a dummy made to look like a black man swinging from a tree on their college campus? Should they accept a swastika on their door written in feces, fellow white students dressed for Halloween as vulgar and grotesque black characters, or white students heckling them with racial slurs during a theater rehearsal? And let's not forget death threats.
Does freedom of speech mean that you can create a racist and hostile environment on campus, letting one particular race on campus know that you hate them and you don't want them there?
According to African American candidate Ben Carson, the answer is yes. Why be so sensitive?
He thinks black students are being "intolerant" and that anything and everything is free speech. Mr. Carson scoffs at using the word "offended" as if that word itself should be banned.
The other front runner has also weighed in. The man with the famous yellow hair, Donald Trump, answers with a resounding yes! Freedom of speech and should be allowed on campus and those who left their posts at these colleges are "weaklings." Trump Yellow Hair sounded like a late night caller on a conservative talk show unleashing his pent up hostility while swilling cheap beer.
Activism on campus is nothing new. During the Vietnam War, it was common and often powerful. It was, in fact, the continued sits-ins and marches that were a real factor in President Johnson's resignation. And he was not exactly a weakling. And there was a time the collegiate institutions were segregated and it took federal marshals to get blacks in the door.
Acts of racism should not be allowed on campus. They are places of learning. So, how about learning civility? Every institution is allowed to have rules of conduct, and harassing other students and creating an environment that makes it difficult for them to study and function as a student should not be tolerated. If some white students are so ill bred that they can't contain themselves from mocking black people or are busying themselves collecting feces for swastikas instead of doing something more productive, maybe they should go to rehab, or go home.
My stomach starts to hurt when I listen the current flood of vitriol coming from the mouths of Carson and Trump Yellow Hair. I find these two candidates for the highest office in the land less and less amusing as time goes on. If Carson had a life experience that wasn't a fantasy, I might find a way to respect him. It's true that nobody can remember everything they did in their past, but I would remember who I stabbed when I was 14. He was never a violent kid who found salvation, that was hokum. And he also does not have an imaginary friend with better intelligence on the Middle East than our president does. The man should show us his medical records. Now.
If Trump cared about something besides money and fame and doubling down on arousing the worse in people instead of the best, I might have more respect for where he's coming from as well. But his rhetoric gets more and more mean-spirited as he gets more and more attention, which seems to be his first love.
But of all the depressing ideas and bizarre pronouncements that come out of these two repellants, the worse is Trumps new round-up, in which he will compassionately drag illegal Mexicans from their homes with his own army, while their children scream and tear at their parents' clothes. Now there's image for a Christmas card. Or a Starbucks coffee cup.
I must sigh here because all of this makes me weary.
I spend a lot of time in Los Angeles, a city rich in Mexican tradition and history. The reason is that for a time California belonged to Mexico (as did the state of New Mexico). So if ever a city was a melting pot, Los Angeles has chilies, beans, tomatoes and herbs in theirs.
Sometimes when I am driving back from the West Side to South Pasadena at night, I take Pico Boulevard all the way downtown. As you get closer to the city center and the opulence of Mediterranean mansions fades away, you travel through what I find to be a great romance; Mexican families, the latest immigrant arrivals, having dinner at long tables set out on the sidewalk, lit with candles in red glass candleholders. Food trucks where young hipsters who live in Korea Town and Silver Lake and Echo Park are gathered to eat exotic fare, drinking wine from plastic cups. Unlike other areas of the city, people here are still on the streets, getting off buses from long days at work, carrying groceries in shopping carts, or just sitting on stoops, talking.
East Pico Boulevard is a dreamy kind of place at night. It makes me wistful because I often forget how hard people work to try and make it here. It makes me feel ashamed that I don't take stock enough in what I have, and the privileges extended to me. And it makes me ashamed of Trump and Carson, with their dim-witted remarks and callous proposals.
America is about opportunity. Who should be denied a chance? Should anyone go to college and find opposition because their advancement is a threat to someone else? Especially since the ancestors of these students built the economy of this country without pay and with their bare hands as an enslaved people. For that alone they should be given some respect. What's happening on these campuses is obscene, and if the two front runners of the Republican party don't have the courage to stand up to it, they should not be running for office.